Refutation Of The Christian Missionary Writing
Ghoniem attempts to deal with my response to his paper, but as we shall see has failed to deal with the real issues. Instead, he chases straw men and red herrings in order to avoid the obvious implications of the evidence, namely that Muhammad was a false prophet and was ignorant of the contents of the previous scriptures.
The aim of Christian missionaries at Answering-Islam website is to provide an answer, no matter how ridiculuous it may sound. So, they decided why not 'refute' the above mentioned hadīth from Sunan ad-Dārimī.
It may sound ridiculous to Ghoniem but maybe that is so, because he has not understood what was actually discussed, why we chose to give this answer, and what its implications really are..
In gist, the above hadīth states that if Moses(P) lived during the time of Muhammad(P), the former would end up following the latter. In other words, Moses(P) would abandon his scriptures and the law given to him and would embrace the scripture and law given to Muhammad(P).
What we expect from a Christian missionary who is 'refuting' the above statement is that he would show us precisely the opposite, i.e., if Moses(P) lived during the time of Muhammad(P), the former would not end up following the latter. But as one can clearly see the Christian missionary instead of 'refuting' the above hadīth has busied himself in showing that the text of Torah is not corrupt.
Had Ghoniem actually read what I said he would see why I took this route. Let us see what I did actually say in my introductory remarks and see whether Ghoniem has been able to handle the real points which I had raised:
It becomes obvious to the reader that my whole intent was to show that if the Quran and the Hadith affirm the purity of the text of the Torah this serves to discredit Muhammad. The reason why it discredits Muhammad's prophetic claims was stated in the paragraph which immediately followed:
So the real issue is how could Moses follow a man who affirms the authority of Moses' writings and yet goes on to contradict the very core message of those writings? Furthermore, would God reveal a message to one prophet and then proceed to reveal a contradictory message to another prophet? Of course not, which serves to prove that Muhammad was both confused and consumed with envy. He was confused since he affirmed the authority of the previous writings and yet proceeded to contradict them. He was also envious in that he burned with anger at the thought that one of his followers would embrace Moses' teachings over his. This shows weakness on Muhammad's part and clearly affirms that he was not a true prophet of God, since if he were he would not have reacted the way he did.
What is more ridiculuous is that the ahadīth from Sunan Abu Dāwud and Ibn Ishāq's Sīrat are quoted to 'refute' the above hadīth. The above two ahadīth simply affirm what a Muslim believes, i.e., the Torah is the revelation from God. As far as the quote from the Qur'ān is concerned (as mentioned in Ibn Ishāq's Sīrat)
Say O Scripture folk, you have no standing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been sent down to you from your Lord...
we would simply ask the Christian missionary to show us which 'Torah' and the 'Gospel' is a true revelation from the below mentioned Bibles of:
Roman Catholic Church
Greek Orthodox Church
And of course, why? They contain different number of books. It is not at all surprising to see the state of the Bible in the beginning years of Islam when Hudhayfa Ibn al-Yamān urged cUthmān:
So, even during the early years of Islam, it was a well known view that the Jews and the Christians different about their scriptures. And what is the state now? That is anybody's guess!
First, I did not quote the traditions to "refute" the one cited by Ghoniem. I quoted it to affirm that the text of the Torah at the time of Muhammad was the uncorrupt word of God. This implies that Ghoniem chases a straw man and does not read carefully. I challenge Ghoniem to please document anywhere from my paper where I used Ishaq and Bukhari to "refute" the tradition on Moses following Muhammad. Here is what I actually said:
Ghoniem is simply being evasive when he claims that, "The above two ahadīth simply affirm what a Muslim believes, i.e., the Torah is the revelation from God.
Ghoniem does not believe that the present day Torah is the same as that of Moses and that which was in use at the time of Muhammad. Hence, he denies the very thing that these traditions prove, namely that the Torah of Moses has never been corrupted, the very thing he does not believe.
Ghoniem has failed to interact with any of the points I have raised.
Second, Ghoniem quotes Hudhaifa out of context, since when read in its intended context the entire hadith serves to debunk the purity of the Quranic text:
Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to 'Uthman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before." So 'Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsa sent it to 'Uthman. 'Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, 'Abdullah bin AzZubair, Said bin Al-As and 'AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. 'Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, "In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue." They did so, and when they had written many copies, 'Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. 'Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. Said bin Thabit added, "A Verse from Surat Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Qur'an and I used to hear Allah's Apostle reciting it. So we searched for it and found it with Khuzaima bin Thabit Al-Ansari. (That Verse was): 'Among the Believers are men who have been true in their covenant with Allah.' (33.23) Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 510
[Side remark: Mr. Ghoniem has not given a reference for his claimed quotation of Hudhayfa, but if the above hadith is his source, then it should be clear that the quotation is extremely free, to say the least. In a discussion about corruption that is a rather serious mistake to make. The above hadith only states the following request: "Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before." It recognizes that the Christians seemingly had some differences "regarding their book" but it is not said that they differed about the text of that book. This is an interpolation on part of Mr. Ghoniem which he tries to force on the reader by inserting "the text of" into the quotation. Most differences reported in church history between various Christian groups are not at all about the text, but about interpretation of the text. And those differences have lead to substantial disunity, that is sadly true. Hudayfa is afraid that disagreement will divide the Muslims and the disunity will distroy them. He does not necessarily say that the reasons for the disagreements about the books are exactly the same. He only recognizes that those disagreements are a danger and that the Christians have been affected by disagreements. Does Mr. Ghoniem try to give a stronger argument against the Bible by corrupting the text of the hadith? (Jochen Katz)]
The Mishkat records:
Accordingly Othman sent to Hafsa, saying, "Send us the sheets that we may copy them into the volumes. Then we shall return them to you." Hafsa therefore sent them to Othman. Then he commanded Zaid ibn Thabit and Abdullah ibn al Zubair and Said ibn al As and Abdullah ibn Harith ibn Hisham, and they copied them into the volumes. And Othman said to the company of the three Quraishites, "When you differ, you and Zaid ibn Thabit, in any portion of the Qur'an write it in the dialect of the Quraish, for verily it came down in their dialect." And they did so until, when they had copied the sheets into the volumes, Othman restored the sheets to Hafsa. And he sent to every region a volume from what they had copied, and commanded regarding everything of the Qur'an besides it, in every sheet and volume, that it should be burned. (Miskat al-Masabih, trans. James Robson [Ashraf Lahore, 1963], p. 185 Bukhari transmitted from Anas bin Malik)
These traditions clearly affirm that the Syrians had readings not known to the Iraqis and vice-versa. These readings had nothing to do with dialectal variations since variations in dialect would not result in the parties not having heard verses contained in the other codices. Other traditions that affirm that the Quran has suffered a loss in its contents include:
I went to Sham with a group of the companions of 'Abdullah (bin Mas'ud). Abu Ad-Darda' heard of our arrival so he came to us and said, "Is there anybody among you who can recite (Qur'an)" We replied in the affirmative. Then he asked, "Who is the best reciter?" They pointed at me. Then he told me to recite, so I recited the verse:--
'By the night as it envelops 'By the day as it appears in brightness; By (Him Who created) male and the female.' (92.1-3) Abu Ad-Darda' then said to me, "Did you hear it (like this) from the mouth of your friend ('Abdullah bin Mas'ud)?" I said, "Yes." He said, "I too, heard it (like this) from the mouth of the Prophet, but these people do not consider this recitation as the correct one." Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 467
The companions of 'Abdullah (bin Mas'ud) came to Abu Darda', (and before they arrived at his home), he looked for them and found them. Then he asked them,: 'Who among you can recite (Qur'an) as 'Abdullah recites it?" They replied, "All of us." He asked, "Who among you knows it by heart?" They pointed at 'Alqama. Then he asked Alqama. "How did you hear 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud reciting Surat Al-Lail (The Night)?" Alqama recited:
'By the male and the female.' Abu Ad-Darda said, "I testify that I heard me Prophet reciting it likewise, but these people want me to recite it:--
'And by Him Who created male and female.' but by Allah, I will not follow them." Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 468
Many (of the passages) of the Qur'an that were sent down were known by those who died on the day of Yamama ... but they were not known (by those who) survived them, nor were they written down, nor had Abu Bakr, Umar or Uthman (by that time) collected the Qur'an, nor were they found with even one (person) after them. (Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif, p. 23).
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: 'Umar said, Ubai was the best of us in the recitation (of the Qur'an) yet we leave some of what he recites.' Ubai says, 'I have taken it from the mouth of Allah's Apostle and will not leave for anything whatever.' But Allah said: None of Our revelations do we abrogate or cause to be forgotten but We substitute something better or similar (2.106)" Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 527
This is why Ibn Umar would say:
Ghoniem, much like Saifullah, chases after the red herring that different Christian denominations have different canons. Before we respond, let us first see if the canon of the Quran was something universally agreed upon by Muslims.
According to the traditions, Abdullah ibn Masud and Ubayy b. Kabb were considered to be two of the four top reciters of the Quran:
'Abdullah bin 'Amr mentioned 'Abdullah bin Masud and said, "I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet saying, 'Take (learn) the Qur'an from four: 'Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu'adh and Ubai bin Ka'b.' " Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 521
Ibn Masud had boasted that there was not a single verse in the Quran in which he did not know when or why it was revealed:
Yet, despite this fact Masud still felt he was not the best Quranic reciter
Once 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud delivered a sermon before us and said, "By Allah, I learnt over seventy Suras direct from Allah's Apostle. By Allah, the companions of the Prophet came to know that I am one of those who know Allah's Book best of all of them, yet I am not the best of them." Shaqiq added: I sat in his religious gathering and I did not hear anybody opposing him (in his speech). Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 522
The honor of being the best Quranic reciter went to Ubayy:
Astonishingly, these men differed over the actual number of Suras that formed the canon of the Quran:
Hence, Masud excluded three Suras from his codex, implying that Masud's Quran only included 111 Suras. Bukhari records:
I asked Ubai bin Ka'b, "O Abu AlMundhir! Your brother, Ibn Mas'ud said so-and-so (i.e., the two Mu'awwidh-at do not belong to the Quran)." Ubai said, "I asked Allah's Apostle about them, and he said, 'They have been revealed to me, and I have recited them (as a part of the Quran)," So Ubai added, "So we say as Allah's Apostle has said." Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 501,
Ubayy's comments are noteworthy in light of the fact that he was considered to be the best reciter of the Quran and yet disagreed with Masud over the canon of the Quran. In fact, not only did Ubayy include the two charm Suras, but included two additional Suras as well:
Here are the Suras in their entirety:
You (alone) we worship, and to You (alone) we pray and lie prostrate, and to You (alone) we proceed and have descendants. We fear Your torture and hope for Your mercy. Truly Your torture will overtake the infidels.
O Allah, You (alone) we ask for help and forgiveness. We speak appreciatingly of Your goodness. Never do we disbelieve You. We repudiate and disbelieve anyone who follows immorality.
Al-Suyuti records that these two surahs were also included in both the codices of Ibn Abbass and Abu Musa. (Al-Itqan, p.154)
So we now ask Ghoniem which canon of the Quran does he believe to be the word of God?
Ibn Masud- 111 Suras
Ubay b. Kabb- 116 Suras
Caliph Uthman- 114 Suras
If Ghoniem believes it is the 114 Suras of Uthman can he please produce one single verse from the Quran indicating that only 114 Suras are that which form the canon of the Quran? If he cannot, then what right does he have to even question the integrity of the canon of the Holy Bible?
As far as the canon of the Holy Bible is concerned we take it on faith that the 66 books of the Protestant Bible are those writings which God sovereignly chose to form the canon of his word. We can no more prove this than Ghoniem can prove that the 114 chapters of the Quran is that which Allah decreed would form the canon of his book. Secondly, no matter what canon one looks at you would still get the historic Christianity faith as opposed to Islam.
Thirdly, Ghoniem must have forgotten or did not care to read the very article appearing at the Islamic Awareness cite which quotes Bruce M. Metzger's work on the formation of the canon:
The first council that accepted the present canon of the books of the New Testament was the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa (A.D. 393); the acts of this council, however, are lost. A brief summary of the acts was read at and accepted by the Synod of Carthage, A D. 397.
Can. 24. Besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing shall be read in church under the name of divine Scriptures. Moreover, the canonical Scriptures are these: [then follows a list of Old Testament books]. The [books of the] New Testament: the Gospels, four books; the Acts of the Apostles, one book; the Epistles of Paul, thirteen; of the same to the Hebrews, one Epistle; of Peter, two; of John, apostle, three; of James, one; of Jude, one; the Revelation of John. Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the transmarine Church shall be consulted. On the anniversaries of martyrs, their acts shall also be read.
According to Zahn, in 419 another Synod held at Carthage gave the concluding words in thc following form:
. . . the Revelation of John, one book. Let this be sent to our brother and fellow-bishop, Boniface [of Rome], and to the other bishops of those parts, that they may confirm this canon, for these are the things that we have received from our fathers to be read in church.
The preceding quotations can be found at this site.
These citations affirm that the canon of the Holy Bible had already been settled by the fourth century, nearly three centuries before Islam. Hence, whatever book that was in the hand of the Judeo-Christian communities which the Quran came to confirm as the uncorrupt word of God had already been decided upon centuries prior to Islam.
Finally, to differ over the text does not imply corruption to the text. If it does, then the Quran is corrupt since the Muslims to this day differ over the meaning of the Quran as well as its true content. An example of such difference is the modern Muslim debate on whether S. 9:128-129 are actually part of the original text. An excellent article that deals with this issue can be found here: At this site.
In summary, the science of textual criticism, manuscript evidence, the Quran and hadiths affirm the reliability and preservation of the biblical text. In turn, both textual criticism and Islamic traditions affirm that the Quran has suffered by way of transmission and fails to compare to the Holy Bible in terms of preservation.
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